Saturday, July 31, 2010

Meet Bella and Blanca

October 2008, New England Equine Rescues sent out a plea to rescues regarding a family of four Belgian horses who were being sent to slaughter.  Rescues from all around the region banded together.  Funds were tight, but at the time I had a enough to help the BSER sponsor the rescue of the mare.

She came to us malnourished with some of the worst hooves we’ve seen in all our time rescuing.

I was there when she arrived, and after a few name suggestions, Bella stuck.  (I had mentioned Bella Sophia, for being beautiful and wise, but we ended up with Bella the Belgian.)  She did live up to her name and is quite the beautiful girl.

She wasn’t too keen on humans though.  (Gee, I wonder why!) But, rather than act up, she was very quite about it, simply moving away.  After a while, she started warming up – especially when it came to grooming.

By December, long time rescue volunteer and supporter, Colleen Corrice had fallen in love with the Beautiful Bella and took her to her forever home, where she is thoroughly and appropriately adored.  Then, the rescue was informed about a wonderful surprise:

Our efforts had saved not one gorgeous horse, but TWO!

Colleen named the new baby Blanca because when she first saw her, she was this pure white. 

Aren’t they precious?

Please help the rescue save more horses like Bella and Blanca by donating via the PayPal button below.  Thank you.  

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Peace for Horses

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Thoroughbreds at the BSER

As an example of some of the problems with the racing industry that Cindy Corliss raised in the earlier post, here are some of the horses that ended up at Bay State Equine Rescue because of the racing industry.

(Photo courtesy of Jane Derosier.)
Ember was born to racing lines, but because her front foot was set at the wrong angle, she would have been shipped to auction and likely sold for slaughter.  So, BSER stepped in and took her.  She now lives with a great family who can use her for light riding and loves her dearly.

(Photo courtesy of Renée Goodwin of Stained Glass Creations & Beyond.)
Sox was an off-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) who had severe issues with his spine.  After BSER recovered him, he began to slowly recover too.  He was able to retire in peace.

Parker is another OTTB who came to us recently.  Fortunately, he has already found a loving family.

I don't want to imagine a world where these three wonderful horses would be nothing but chattel or meat.  Each had his or her own brilliant personality, and each touched the lives of all the people who had a chance to know them.

Help BSER continue to keep good horses from just being thrown away if they're "not good enough."  Please donate by clicking on the apple below.  Thank you.

Click the apple to donate now to help the BSER horses!

Blogathon Profile: Cindy Corliss

Cindy Corliss, who I met through the Editorial Freelancer's Association, has been a great supporter of the Blogathon since I started it.  Not only that, but she's become a friend and wonderful horse rescue conspirator and crusader.  She recently was part of a rescue of three Arabian horses, two of which she adopted, from a neglectful home. 

(Gracie and Lisa, happily munching in their happy home that Cindy provided.)

My name is Cindy Corliss and I began Bookworm Inc. ( in 2004.  In 2008, I joined the Editorial Freelancers Association wherein I’ve had the privilege of learning from professionals in publishing and of meeting animal advocates like Trisha Wooldridge and her great cause, Bay State Equine Rescue. While I do not live in Massachusetts, so I can’t volunteer my time at BSER in person, I greatly admire their efforts made on behalf of needy horses. As the owner of two rescue horses of my own, I know the amount of physical work, planning, and budgeting needed to provide proper care for these magnificent animals. Multiply two horses times all those that the good people at BSER care for, and you can see the brilliance (and selflessness) of Trish’s annual blogging event. Please help BSER by donating what you can afford, no matter how small.

I grew up with horses, worked racing circuits as a bug boy, and know the harsh world of the horseracing industry and its disposable horse mentality. I'd be interested in donating (pro bono) editorial services to those with firsthand knowledge writing to expose and put an end to the cruelty, doping, slaughter, etc. all of which exist behind the scenes of the racehorse industry. Confidentiality ensured. Please contact me at Cindy(at)bookworminc(dot)com

As always, thank you very much for your support, Cindy!  Not only for the Blogathon, but in all you do for animals in need.  Give hugs to the Ladies for me?

Join Cindy and help us make the world a better place for horses by donating to the Bay State Equine Rescue below.  Thank you!

Click the apple to donate now to help the BSER horses!

Some Happy Endings for Horses

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Blogathon Interview: Amanda Miller

Amanda Miller is a Certified Life Coach for "women of a certain age" that I had the good fortune of meeting at a Downtown Women's Club event.  Not only did she just have a presence that made people feel good in just being around her, she also loves horses!  So, I'm doubly happy to introduce you to her during the Blogathon!

Thank you, again, Manda, for being part of the Blogathon.  Your website, Smart Steps Life Coach, has a great explanation of what life coaching is, and what to expect.  What inspired you to make your life path coaching - particularly for middle aged women?

I really had outgrown the role I had been in for almost 15 years as a corporate trainer, and I didn’t enjoy working for the company I was employed by at the time, which was one of Britain’s biggest banks.  My husband had the chance to relocate to the Boston area, so I jumped at the chance to escape the existing job. I had just finished my bachelor’s degree at the grand old ageof 41 and wanted to explore human development and psychology further.  Life coaching seemed to fit the best parts of training with personal development.  The ‘Women of a certain age” part came after about six months of starting the coaching buisness as I had no previous experience of marketing my services, and every marketing guru always said you had to find a niche.  I initially thought that it would be ‘confidence coaching for women’, but after working with a couple of clients I realized that there is a certain point in our lives (after about age 35) when we go through a transitional period because of career change (like myself), relationship breakup or just no longer knowing who we are or what we want.  I then had a client who used the ‘aha moment’ phrase after I had asked her to reflect on an issue in her life, and that just felt like it summed up what I wanted to provide for all my clients.

What is your favorite part of life coaching?  What do you find the most challenging?

I love problem solving with people, so finding that key “aha” question that sparks off new ideas for my clients is always really rewarding.  I also love preparing group coaching sessions so that I can share some of the key coaching solutions with small groups of people, and experience their interactions.  The most challenging part, which all coaches say they were unprepared for, is actually getting your name known, and having clients find you – marketing snd self promotion.  It is very time consuming.

You were also trainined as a Color and Image Consultant.  Among my blog readers are many writers and "geeks" (used as a positive endearment) like me who fear fashion.  What advice can you give us to make handling our appearance less terrifying?

Find out what your base colors are to wear – a color consultant can do this for you, but if you have a tight budget, rembmer that no one ever looks bad in navy blue, and you can always wear colors that are similar to your natural hair and eye color.  Too many women choose to wear black, which often overpowers them and makes them look tired.  Buy classic items that suit your body shape and you will always look good, and you can accessories inexpensively with colored scarves and jewellery.  I’ve always felt that fashion can be left to the under 21 age group.  You do not have to wear the latest fashion to look sylish and well turned out, and you can never look geeky when you are well presented.

What are some of the tools and services that you offer online?  I know you have a great blog, newsletter, and you were working on webinars?  Can you tell us more - and how to sign up?
I write a regular blog giving hints, tips and reminders on how to be your own life coach, and support this with a monthly newsletter that is sent to my subscribers.  You can read the blogs and past newsletters on my website and I would be honored if horseloving readers of this interview would join my subscribers from the link on the site.  I have a teleconference on August 2, entitled “Conquering your Inner Critic”, which is about dealing with that voice in your head that tells you that you are “not good enough”.  This will form part of a six part group telephone coaching program that I will be offering shortly at an affordable price – if fanyone is interested in getting further information on dates and times, please drop me an email at  I will also post updates in the newsletter.  There are also two face to face workshops that I am delivering in September, in collaboration with an Image consultant, which we are calling “The Magic of Midlife”, and a skin care expert which we are refering to as “The Cinderella Series”.  Both will be helping women with confidence, personal goals and image, and will be in Wellesley.  Again, email me for dates and further information.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your journey?  Which lesson do you find most women have to learn or face in their life?

That if you have a goal or a dream, and keep focused on in, you can achieve it.  I use my manifestation of my first pony as an example, since I wanted on for about 6 years when I was young (that was half my lifetime at that point!)  I coach my clients on establishing what their goals are, writing them down and finding pictures of the things they want to have in their lives, which is a bit like being a pony mad child and collecting pictures, books and ornaments of horses, and drawing and writing about them as I did.

I have found that most women need to face two lessons.  The first is that they should spend time to nurture themsleves and give themselves permission to do what they want – they don’t need to solve the problems of everyone else in the family first – it just makes them exhausted and bad tempered.  The second is closely related in that they need to find some balance to be able to focus on the issues that are important to their goals, dreams and wellbeing, not just the everyday duties of running their household or career.  This is one of the activies that I am focusing on in the September workshops.

Can you share a little about the horses in your life?  What is one of your favorite stories to tell?  And what did you learn from the horses in your life?

My first and long awaited pony was Mercury, a 13.2 dapple grey with a lovely temperament.  I always say that he was my first love, and I still think about him 30 years later. Sadly, I outgrew him, and my parents couldn’t afford to let me keep him.
Mercury is involved in one of my favorite stories, because in the summer when I was 12, I taught my best friend to ride on him.  Once she had mastered walk, trot and canter, we went our for trail rides. I was riding a 16.3 ex-racehorse (visualize the scene of two 12 year olds riding a small pony and an elderly racehorse).  We were having a slow canter along the side of a field, and when I stopped and looked around to speak to my friend, neither she nor Mercury were in sight.  So I trotted back along the path we had followed and saw Mercury looking into a ditch, just as my friend was climbing out, as if he was asking “What are you doing down there?”  She had her first fall.  She wasn’t hurt and was able to get back on – but I am sure Mercury had an amused smile on his face for the rest of the day.

I think that Mercury and the other horses I have had in my life (Lady, Filly and Cyril) have taught me to enjoy my own company and that I can always find peace, patience and the ability to live in the present moment when I am around them (not necessarily when I am sitting in the saddle though!).  Horses have no guilt about the past or worry about the future.  Nowadays, I have found this in the cats that I share my life too.

What question haven't I asked that you wished I did - and what would the answer be?

Maybe - what would you do if you had a spare million dollars? The answer would be to set up a shelter for any domestic animal that needed help or a home.  I have an image of everything from horses, donkeys, goats, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats.  But I would probably need an extra million to pay people to do that much work – I know how much energy is needed to maintain one horse or pony!

Lastly, what are the ways people can contact, follow… or otherwise positively stalk you online?
Visit my website – http://www.smartstepslifecoach.comand leave me some comments on my blogs if you find them useful
My facebook page is, where I have some group coaching special offers for my followers.

And again, please sign up on the website for my monthly newsletter, (I need to finish this months as soon as I have completed this!)

Again, thank you very much for your support of the Bay State Equine Rescue, Amanda!
Please follow some of Manda's links to find out more!  And if you enjoyed this interview, consider joining her in supporting the Bay State Equine Rescue.

Click the apple to donate now to help the BSER horses!

Blogathon Logistics

I talked a little about how the blogathon works before, but I just realized I should add something else about the way I handle donations - because each blogger does things a little differently.

I have each post set up to link directly to the Bay State Equine Rescue PayPal account.

This lets any sponsors safely donate directly to the rescue; the money never touches me.  Also, I want to reiterate, all of your contact info remains confidential.  The rescue will never share it, nor will we sign you up for any of our mailings either.  (If you WANT us to, make a note in the PayPal donation. We'd love to share our stories and events with more people.)

That said, I don't have access to the rescue's PayPal account.

Fortunately, I've become friends with the president of the rescue, Susan Sheridan, and once she's recovered from the Gigantic Yard Sale that's happening today, she will most likely go through her email and send me copies of the PayPal receipts.  But I'd also like to keep track of any donations, myself.  It's a good way to cross check what works and what doesn't.  Also, I'd love any feedback about the posts or the blogathon.  What worked?  What didn't?  What would you like to see more of?  I do this fundraiser every year, and I want to make it the best experience for my readers and sponsors as possible.

So, send me emails!  trish (at) anovelfriend (dot) com  (replace the (at) with @ and the (dot) with . and kill the spaces, for you who don't know this trick to avoid automatic spam browsers.  Please, email me any PayPal receipts of your donations - and let me know how you feel about the blogathon.

Thank you!

Click the apple to donate now to help the BSER horses!

Blogathon Article: True Cat Toons

Roberta Gregory is another colleague and friend from Broad Universe.  She's a comic writer and artist!  Her ongoing project, True Cat Toons will touch the hearts of many fellow horse folk, writers, and animal lovers.  After all, nearly all of this crossroads of demographics live with cats.

True Cat Toons!

WHAT are True Cat Toons? Comics stories of humorous and/or enlightening and/or heartwarming TRUE cat tales, illustrated by internationally-known comics artist Roberta Gregory (myself!)-- and written by YOU.

 If you have a cat (or three) you have a cat tale to tell! I am collecting folks' TRUE cat stories for my website and forthcoming book (or three).

Have you had a very special cat in your life who deserves to be remembered and whose tale you would love to share with the world?

Has a cat of yours been seen doing something very unusual or thought-provoking or just plain funny?

Have you been observing cat behavior for years and now have some insights to share with the rest of us?

Did your cat come into your life by an unusual or serendipitous route?

If so, then you could contribute to True Cat Toons! You do not have to know how to write a comic book— simple written paragraphs, a few sentences or a short verbal narrative are enough. I have been writing comics all my creative life, and it's easy for me. But if you want to script your Cat Tale as a comic and suggest the pictures or dialogue to accompany it, feel free. (You just might unleash your hidden comic book writer!)

Visit my website for more details:

If you do not feel like contributing, visit anyhow! Read True Cat Comics by other folks, see cat links, read about what I have learned from my cats (including Cat Yoga), read the blog (and contribute your own insights), look at photos of some pretty kitties. You can even follow True Cat Toons on Facebook (and add your own kitties' pictures to the photo gallery)!

I believe that everyone who is close to a cat (or a few) is an amateur cat behavioral scientist—and has observations and insights that are of value in the great picture of how remarkable and intelligent and aware cats truly can be. I have collected stories about the ways mother cats educate their kittens, fascinating interactions between cats (one cat appointed himself an elderly cat's "bodyguard") and with other animals (one cat became the leader of a pack of dogs until he realized he was really a cat after all) and with their humans (meet Purrrzac the therapy cat, who helps soothe therapy patients) just to name a few stories.

There are also stories about inventive ways cats annoy their owners, the strange circumstances that bring cats into our lives, and the persistence of a cat who returns daily to his old neighborhood after his "people" move away. I have heroic tales of the lengths humans will go to for their cats—what about disposing of radioactive cat poop as toxic waste every day? There is even a ghost story of a cat who returned to give a final farewell to his loved ones. AND, learn why you should not open your mouth TOO wide in front of a hungry cat!

Is there something special about black cats? A majority of the stories I have collected so far are about black cats. I think this is wonderful, because black cats are traditionally the last to be adopted, and it is great to be able to show how special they are.

My first cat comic was a tribute to my wonderful kitty Muffy, who I once thought of as an ordinary, boring cat, and who I came to know as a little fur person of great depth. This story was published many years ago and earned me an Eisner Award nomination (the comic industry's Oscars) and this story will appear in the book as well.

You can also visit my main website.

It is filled with many pages from my past and current comic books, as well as the first chapter of my new novel, and you can buy my books and comics, while they last.

BUT, if you admire cats, have cats in your life or remember a beloved feline member of your family—do stop by True Cat Toons for a visit—and feel free to contribute!

Thank you, Roberta!  If you enjoyed reading this post and want to join Roberta in helping the Bay State Equine Rescue, please donate via the button below.  Thank you.

Click the apple to donate now to help the BSER horses!

Blogathon: My Little Pony Lessons

My Little Pony…

… how do you annoy me… let me count the ways.

Ok, that’s putting it mildly.  Ponies are evil, mischievous spawn of the devil.  I love them!  I didn’t realize either of these facts until I met Epona.

Epona arrived at the Bay State Equine Rescue in deplorable condition.  For over a month, we were caring for her in her quarantined stall.  She let us do anything from brushing to hoof-picking to administering medicine.

Then she started to feel better.

Having had bunnies for over 10 years in my life, the best way I can describe the first clues were that Epona was doing “Binkies” in her stall and in her own little paddock.  Binkies are these hopping, twisting, Olympic-worthy jump dances.  It’s adorable to watch rabbits do it; it was not only cute, but awe-inspiring, watching this pony do the same.

Until those back legs started taking aim.

For those unfamiliar with horses, as I was, ponies are Not Nice.  They are bossy little brats that don’t take anyone’s crap and have mood swings.  They are also ridiculously smart.  Epona and Avoca (the rescue’s partly blind Pryor Mountain Mustaing) found any and every weakness in our fencing and would work together to unlatch gates or cause general mischief.  Avoca has always been the rescue’s Alpha Mare; Epona was first mate.

Those not familiar with horses may also not realize that a lead-rope across the bum – a now properly filled and muscled bum! – of a horse surprises them more than hurts them.  My lessons in pony etiquette began with me going nowhere near her unless I had a lead-rope over my shoulder.  If I even saw pinned (flattened) ears, I’d lazily swing said lead rope.  She had her pony bum smacked a few times, but within 2 weeks, she just needed to see I had a lead rope and I would only get pinned ears--no more double barreled flying side-kicks.  After two weeks, I almost never got pinned ears; we had learned to play.

Or rather, she taught me to play.

I was just learning about longeing when Epona arrived, and our neighbor across the street had a nice round pen that she let the rescue use.  Epona and I worked out this longeing mystery together.  She liked being challenged; she liked it if I changed commands quickly so she wouldn’t get bored.  And then, when I was comfortable enough to free longe her (in an enclosed pen with just the longe whip and no line), she taught me to play tag.

I would tap her bottom and get her to move in different directions with voice commands.  Then she’d come up to me and nicely nudge me with her nose.  I’d scratch her favorite spots, and we’d start over.

Two years after her arrival and our work together, one of the other volunteers took Epona to the Barre Riding & Driving Club (BDRC) and New England Equestrian Center of Athol (NEECA) show at Felton Field in Barre, MA. The volunteer entered Epona in the walk-trot-canter classes, and Epona walked away with FIVE different ribbons!

She was adopted by an approved family only a few weeks later, and lives as the happy companion of a young girl.  She is also being trained to drive a cart!  Hooray for Epona!  No matter how many kicks or bites I sustained from her, I still miss her greatly. 

Upon Arrival at the Bay State Equine Rescue:

Epona After:

(Photo courtesy of Renée Goodwin of Stained Glass Creations & Beyond.)

Help us help more horses like Epona by donating to the Bay State Equine Rescue with the button below.  Thank you.

Click the apple to donate now to help the BSER horses!

Dr. Anthony Francis: Give it Away to Get it Back

I met Anthony through the DragonWriters, a workshop group created through A.C. Crispin's writing workshop at Dragon*Con.  The DragonWriters is oldest writer's group that I've been a part of - and probably the most influential and helpful, Anthony not least among the group with his enthusiasm and drive.  So, it's with great pleasure that I get to share my blog with him during the Bay State Equine Rescue Blogathon!

Anthony Francis is a computer scientist by day and a writer every free minute he isn't spending with his wife and cats. He's been writing science fiction since he was a child, but fell in love with urban fantasy five years ago and started work on what became the Skindancer series featuring magical tattoo artist Dakota Frost. The first book in the series, FROST MOON, came out this March, BLOOD ROCK is expected to come out this year, and he's hard at work on LIQUID FIRE. In all his writing but especially the Skindancer series, Anthony loves mixing hard science with pure fantasy and seeing what comes out of the stew. His Ph.D work at Georgia Tech focused on artificial intelligence for information retrieval, and he currently works at "The Search Engine That Starts With a G."

Give It Away to Get It Back 

At the beginnings of their careers, a lot of authors and other creative types are obsessed with making money off what they produce and are deathly afraid of people stealing it.  I've seen people charging their friends for copies of short stories printed in magazines, putting their artwork on the web behind passwords or with huge watermarks, or pricing their software out of reach of the people who want to buy it. But this doesn't help them - in fact, it hurts. And I'm here to tell you to give stuff away for free.

Why? Well, that takes a bit of explanation. Sometimes I describe my philosophy as the trainwreck of Christianity and Objectivism: I have a strong moral core based on the Christian principle of "do to others as you wish they would do to you" backed up by the Objectivist principle that "you should not fake reality in any way whatsoever." When faced with moral choices, I think: "WW{JC,HR,RF}D?", or, "What Would Jesus Christ, Howard Roark or Richard Feynman do?" If my mental model of two out of the three agree, I feel pretty confident I'm doing the right thing.

And a lot of the time doing the right thing, even for a Christian, involves getting paid for your work.  It's not a surprise that all three of Jesus, Howard and Richard would tell you that it is up to you to find your own special talents.  But I'd go further, and say all three would tell you it is your responsibility to use those talents to be a productive citizen - see the parable of the talents, the whole of the Fountainhead, or Feynman's reflections on what to do with his life after he left Los Alamos. In other words, you should get paid for your work - or, as my mom puts it, "don't give away your stuff for free." 

But that can sound pretty selfish, and can lead to that hoarding behavior in creative types I described above. Well, WWJ,H,RD? Jesus preached generosity, but a number of his parables seem to approve of some pretty darn selfish behavior. And, of course, both Howard and Richard could be pretty selfish. That's two point five out of three, and yet I'm still going to tell you that being too greedy can get in the way, and that you should instead give stuff away to get ahead. What gives?

The problem is in creative endeavors, greed gets in the way. In the beginning, no-one knows what your creative efforts are really works. Stories are not eggs. Paintings are not potatoes. And software isn't steak. Products of creation are not really commodities; there's no ready-made standard of value telling us how much an artwork is worth. Deep down, we know this: we don't expect a publisher to buy a story before having read it, or a reader to buy a novel without flipping through it, or a moviegoer to see a movie without having seen the trailer or at least the poster. You may be responsible for using your talents wisely to provide for yourself, but you can't fake the reality that no-one wants to buy something when they don't know what it's worth.

And yet, early in our creative careers, we can get into a hard sell mode, convinced that we can't let a single copy of our precious work away unless someone pays for it - sometimes, pays a lot for it. This seems natural, because we worked hard to create that piece of art; we couldn't possibly sell it for less than that. But all we're really doing is gumming up the works - convincing the reader to go to the next writer, the viewer to go to the next artist, the client to go to the next contractor. Putting your light under a bushel basket and charging for every peek prices your out of the market before people know how good you are. And until they really learn how good you are, they aren't going to pay you to be creative.

I'm not saying I'm good at this. I was a guy who charged people for copies of a magazine with one of my short stories in it when I could have run them off at a printer. I've lost software contracts because I bid too high. And I still ask that people buy copies of my book - though this last one is a strategy; I want the publishers and distributors to know people are buying my book, and it costs me some coin to buy copies of my own novel (in boxes of 28) because I've already gone through all the free ones I could get from my publisher.

But a lot of the people who have received copies of FROST MOON paid for it, even though I offered to give them copies for free. Why did they do that? Many of those people who paid for a hard copy of FROST MOON were my beta readers, who got a free copy of FROST MOON from me back around draft 42. They knew how good it was and wanted to support me. Many of my beta readers went further and didn't buy it from me directly - they went to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to show their support, even though they had to pay a bit more for shipping. So giving things away for free has turned around and helped me out.

But this isn't just one kooky author's strategy. It's the strategy of the publisher too. Bell Bridge Books is composed of wonderful people, but I can assure you they're in the business of making money - and yet they've given away ten times as many books as I have, both in electronic and printed form.  They're practically throwing them at people, and also doing many other little things like putting together videos and buying licenses for art that I'm using in my own promotions. Why are they doing that? They want people to know how good FROST MOON is, and by extension how good I am, and by extension how good they are. They want those people to tell their friends to buy FROST MOON ... or, more importantly, BLOOD ROCK and LIQUID FIRE when they come out, or other books by Bell Bridge Books now that you've learned they put out the good stuff.
This isn't a trivial expense; it's a serious line item in the initial push on a book, and if the book doesn't do well it can remain a major part of the cost. So why do publishers do it? They're in for the long haul. They're not in for the one-time peek under the bushel to see a brief flash of light: they want to flip the basket over, set the light on top of it, call people over, let them take a good long look at it before sitting down for a long bask under its warm glow ... and remind them that if they come back tomorrow, they'll be able to bask under it again ... and the next day ... and the next day. Except it isn't days, it's books. But you get the idea.

The way I'm describing this, it seems like this is a cold Objectivist strategy - giving stuff away for free now because it will pay off for you later - rather than a Christian altruistic approach. And I know a lot of Christians will get their hackles up at this and try to shut this idea out.  But I also know a fair number of priests and theologians who will tell you that this calculus of reward doesn't change even if you expect no reward in this life - you're just moving the receipt of the reward to heaven.  But the delayed gratification, long-term-payoff view isn't what I'm talking about here, either in this life or the next. I'm talking about the nature of creation.

In a world where everyone is pricing themselves out of the market, nothing is getting done.  Readers aren't getting samples of stories, stories are sitting in sock drawers, and the flow of ideas starts to dry up. Patrons aren't getting to see samples of artwork, artwork is sitting in closets, and our walls are barren rather than inspirational. Angel investors aren't investing in companies, ideas are remaining in garages, and everything that could be built on those ideas isn't happening. Sure, some stuff is getting done - some stories sold, some art hung, some ideas funded - but the commodities, the things we already know we need.

In a world where people give things away for free, something different happens. Cory Doctorow writes Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, gives it away for free, and is not only a short term success but founds a whole career. An artist (whose name I don't remember) sells some art for cheap in Atlanta and explodes, hanging art in restaurants over the whole city. Free software and open source software thrives; giant companies are built upon software written by college kids in their bathrobes (who go on to become well paid and have their own huge careers).

So give your stories away. Give away your artwork. Do some consulting work for free. Put up a version of your own website with your own money and time. Sell samples of your stories for cheap, or put prints on the market for as low as you can afford. No matter how you have to do it, get your stuff out there and let people know how good you are. Let people build on it. This isn't to say you never make money off what you make, or that you always give everything away for free forever.  Cory Doctorow sells books, that artist in Atlanta is no doubt going for thousands of dollars a pop, and Linus Torvalds makes a boatload of money now.  But create the market first before trying to exploit it, or you'll kill it before it gets started.

And it's important that it gets started. Because, if you're any good, people getting your stuff isn't just good for you, it's good for the world. People can build upon the building blocks you created - fan fiction, prints of your artwork, software built on your frameworks. In a gift culture, people become inspired to become producers themselves. I, for example, am sitting in a huge pile of books, comics, posters, and prints, almost all of which I got on the cheap and all of which feed the creative fires that produce my own art and writing.  Once that fire is lit, once people see the cornerstones upon which the edifice is built, people may come to you, the original author, for more cornerstones, and that's great - but if not, they're still better off.

I think this is one reason Jesus asked us to give things away, for which he claims we will be rewarded in heaven. But why will we be rewarded? I believe that things aren't good because Jesus says so, but that Jesus said so because things are good. Everyone is better off in a culture of giving, and that's why we should do it.  So don't greedily hang on to every scrap of every thing you create; let things go.  If you are responsible about doing that, if you have a plan to build something on top of that cornerstone, eventually it will come back to you, just like the book of Proverbs says. And if the roll of the dice works against you - if you give something away and don't see how you can get repaid for it - then take comfort that you made the world a better place. I'm not just saying that because I'm a Christian. Even Howard Roark would approve of that - because while Objectivists are selfish, they are also benevolent.

-the Centaur

Thank you so much for the great article, Anthony!  And Thank you for continuing the good by supporting the Bay State Equine Rescue.

Definitely go buy Anthony's book - it is a GREAT read!

And if you can, please consider also donating to the Bay State Equine Rescue via the apple below.  J 

Click the apple to donate now to help the BSER horses!

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